Sherrie Levine is having a bit of a resurgence lately, thanks to "Mayhem," an albeit mixed survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and a forthcoming catalog this spring of the same name. But you don't have to go all the way across the country to see the modern art fixture's work. Here in Houston, Hiram Butler Gallery is hosting a small but still lovely show, "Sherrie Levine: Selected Works."
The serene grounds, clean, sparse, white walls, and pointed roof of the gallery give the space an almost religious feel, as if you're worshiping the artist. And worship Levine, Butler does -- the gallery owner has been a fan of the artist since the early 1980s, right around when she blew up with her After Walker Evans series, in which Levine claimed photos by the Depression Era photographer by rephotographing them herself -- and giving critics and theorists much to ponder about authenticity and originality in art in the process.
The collection of paintings and drawings here, which span 1986 to 2000, is by no means meant to be exhaustive -- there aren't any sculptures, for one -- but the survey has some noteworthy series by the artist. Of note is her Barcham Green Portfolio -- five etchings that borrow from cultural icons, including one of Evans's photographs (or is it Levine's?), as well as prior works by Levine -- a delicate image of bark and gold leaves that nods to her work with plywood.
Mondrian and Degas are also sources of inspiration, admiration and, ultimately, material. The 1995 series After Degas is particularly marvelous, featuring a suite of five lithographs that are replications of archival prints of Degas's work, his signature comically visible in some, but shrunken and erased of his subtle color. This method of brazen replication that Levine has become synonymous with is made even more relevant -- though rarely questioned -- in the Internet age.
Levine's show almost got lost in the holiday shuffle, but thanks in part to the Whitney exhibition, the gallery is extending its run, so you have time to go worship at her altar.
Selected works by Sherrie Levine at Hiram Butler Gallery, 4520 Blossom, running now through February 25. For more information, call 713-863-7097 or visit the gallery's website.
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